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Can it be February 5th, Please?

January 10, 2012

We’ve been teased with sneak peaks and drawings of the highly-anticipated Jason Wu collection for Target for weeks now, but today we finally have access to the entire look-book. I haven’t been this excited for a GO collection since Rodarte, and his designs do not disappoint. They perfectly translate his aesthetic into something for the mass market without pandering to cheap trends or insulting us with veering so far away from his runway looks. The collection mostly consists of dresses and bags that are all perfectly pretty, and it’s difficult to choose which are my favorites. Here are a few highlights, but the full collection can be found on Refinery 29.

Thank god I have until February 5th to decide.

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January 10, 2012

So, even though I don’t think this is something you’re supposed to admit or acknowledge, I’m going to put it out there that I’ve been pretty blocked when it comes to post ideas lately, as you may have noticed.  But, I’m always updating Audrey Monroe’s Twitter, and now I’d like to add another way to follow me during my off-times: Pinterest. The site is my current obsession, and if you’re at all artistically inclined, I guarantee that it’ll quickly change the way you’ll see the world. Like how whenever I see a text or email I find pleasing but don’t feel like responding to and find myself immediately thinking I should “like” it, now whenever I find an image I enjoy outside of the internet, I keep wishing I could simply “pin it.” I’ve expressed my love for inspiration boards in the past, but they’re a bit time-consuming and not always practical. I’ve kept a few folders in my Pictures file for inspiring images under different themes for a few years now, but I have trouble keeping up with them, and when they’re so hidden away they tend not to quite do the job of inspiring.

Enter: Pinterest. It’s a genius concept that combines social bookmarking and mood boards into a site where you can save and organize images that you enjoy or inspire you. You can separate them into different boards or themes (mine include pictures of my dream house, fashion shots, art and design, food porn, craft inspiration, cute animals, and a space for random finds), and either gaze at a particular topic one at a time or scroll through your collection organized in a timeline. Right now I’m just using it for fun, but many have found more practical uses for it, like gathering ideas for redecorating their homes or planning their weddings.  Find your friends or personalities and websites that you admire (ahem) and follow them so you can see their pins in a collage on your homepage as a way to discover even more awesome things around the web. You can repin, like, or comment on others’ finds as well to boost the social aspect of the site. All in all, it’s a lot of fun.

Pinterest is still in beta testing and requires an invitation to join, so get yourself on the waitlist, or contact me for an invite at the link in the sidebar. And don’t forget to follow me! Here’s my profile.

How to Make Your Own Fascinator

December 14, 2011
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The holiday season is officially here and with it come the parties. Being even more financially strapped this year, a new party dress isn’t in the cards for me, so I’ve been focusing my strategies on accessories to make my (totally expansive) collection of dresses feel new again.  I figured a couple of statement-making pieces would get me through the season, and lately my attention has been completely drawn to fascinators. The craze this year was brought on by the royal wedding, and perfectly ties in to the old Hollywood glamour that I love to emulate. But I was having trouble finding one that felt right for me. Many went way over the top, or came as a headband or full-on hat. I wanted something simple, small, and tasteful. And it definitely had to have a veil – not a full birdcage, but something that ended right below the eyes to really push a femme fatale vibe.

But besides being stuck on the styles that were on offer, they tended to be way out of my price range costing anywhere between $30 and over $100. I might as well buy a new dress! But it hit me the other day that if all I want is something akin to a hairclip, that this could be done myself, and for cheap to boot. So I scoured my favorite sewing store in the city, PS Fabrics at 359 Broadway, and $5 (yes, five dollars) and an hour and a half later I had my very own fascinator:

Simple enough that it wouldn’t take that much guts to wear it, yet it would add so much more style to your everyday party dress. Here’s what you need:

1 piece of black felt ($.30)

What amounts to I’m estimating an 1/8 of a yard of black tulle with wide netting (a yard for $1.30)

1 hair clip (pack of 12 or $2)

A small piece of thin cardboard (I raided my recycling and used the box of a twelve pack of soda)

Embellishments (I chose black sequins – $.75 – but rhinestones or feathers would also be good)

Needle, thread, and pins (I assumed I had black thread, so I used silver, which wasn’t awful, but the whole thing would’ve been better with black)

Fabric scissors

A guide for your shapes: I used a can of cat food for the base of my fascinator, since I wanted the focus to be more on the netting than the piece itself. It was a good size for a hair clip, too. (Note: Using a can of cat food will make your cat go crazy, thinking it’s dinnertime even though he ate an hour ago, and then he’ll spend the whole time sniffing around, chasing your thread, and chewing on your tulle. But the can is still a good size.)

I actually never used the measuring tape that’s shown, but it could come in handy.

And here’s what you need to do:

  • First, cut out your shapes. Trace the can (or whatever your guide is) on the cardboard and cut it out. Then trace about a half inch larger around the can on the felt while folded in half, so you end up with two felt circles. (Note: My original idea was to just make one felt piece slightly larger and turn it down over to hide the cardboard and stitching, but that didn’t work out as planned. As I was finishing, I realized it would’ve been better to just conceal the cardboard between two slightly larger felt circles. So, the photos don’t show this.)

  • Next, make two small slits in one of the felt pieces the same width as the hair clip. Fit the clip through and close it, so it’s snapped over the felt. Pin this into place over the cardboard (it will be hard to get the pins through the felt and cardboard, and you will stab yourself) and then sew around the outer edge. This is the inside of your fascinator.

  • Now it’s time to figure out your embellishments. Play around with your design on the other piece of felt (I chose a starburst pattern) and once you’re decided on it, sew it in place. (Note: Sewing sequins is tedious.)

  • Next is the trickiest part: dealing with the tulle. It’s also tricky to take pictures of tulle, so hopefully this step will be described clearly. Cut a piece of tulle that’s a bit larger than you’ll end up needing. I did this by basically wrapping it around my face and cutting an inch or two larger than the width and height of that piece. Now, cut off the top two corners. Cut a long piece of thread, and loosely sew along the top half, starting from the bottom of the cutoff corner. Be sure to leave a tail of thread at the starting point that’s at least an inch long. Do not tie off at either end. Once this is done, pull the two ends of the thread to scrunch up the top half, creating a rounded piece of tulle that will frame your face. Tie each end off tightly, so the tulle won’t fall flat while you’re working with it. Pin in place around the front side of your base, and sew around the edge, making sure not to get the tulle caught in the needle as you go.

Sierra Mist did not sponsor this post.

  • Now take your other piece of embellished felt, pin it in place, and sew around the edge. Test out your fascinator, and trim the tulle to the desired size and shape. And just like that, your fascinator is complete!

Be sure to keep your eye makeup strong so they shine through the veil, and a red lip is a natural way to complete the look.

Keystrokes/Brushstrokes

December 13, 2011

I’m about to simultaneously blow your mind and reestablish my cred after my last ANTM-heavy post.  These paintings:

were made with a typewriter. Artist, Tyree Callahan, reconfigured a 1937 typewriter into a new way to create paintings. He attached a sponge soaked in paint to the end of each key, and painted the top of the key with the corresponding color, and then types out his work. 

It’s a genius idea, and one of the most innovative techniques I’ve ever seen. I’ve been waiting to find an artist in my lifetime that I’ve found exciting, with potential to be The Name of my generation. Sure, that’s investing a lot in this very recent discovery, and could be considered a disproportionate response, but for someone who enjoys art, I find it upsetting that I don’t have a favorite contemporary artist. There are plenty of artists and art that I enjoy, but with the exception of the evolution of street art, there really hasn’t been anyone doing anything new that I’ve found to be both interesting and talented. I grow tired of artists who try to be weird or edgy just for the sake of being weird or edgy, or where it seems too obvious that the motivation behind the creation of the piece is solely attempting to be something inventive. I find Callahan’s pieces moving and beautiful in and of themselves, and they only become more intriguing once I know how they were created. Their medium isn’t the sole reason they’re alluring, which along with shock value seems to be the main driving force behind the art scene these days. So, here’s hoping that Callahan won’t fade into obscurity. I’ll be looking forward to seeing what happens with him next.

AMENDMENT: I contacted Callahan for an interview, and I wanted to share his response because it turns out there has been a misinterpretation:

I’d be happy to answer your questions and participate in any way you feel is meaningful.  I need to clarify immediately, however, that the typewriter is a conceptual piece.  It is not used for painting.  It did not create the paintings at tyreecallahan.com.  My brushes did!  Feel free to kick me in the shins.  Seems that since the thing hit the Make Magazine blog, everyone who has re-blogged since has the idea that it actually paints.  I can’t figure out whether to laugh or to cry.  Mostly it’s due to the excitement, I think, that the piece has generated.  The feedback has been amazing.  It has definitely captured people’s imaginations!

The idea for the typewriter came about when I was in the studio struggling with a watercolor.  When I finally got the painting to a point where I was happy with it, I ran it through an older Olivetti typewriter I keep around the studio to type a poem onto the painting.  While I was typing away, the inspiration for the Chromatic Typewriter hit me like a ton of bricks.  IT HAD TO BE BUILT.  It is one of my entries to the West Prize.  I have submitted paintings, too, but people seem to like the typewriter more.  It’s stuck in 11th place at the moment.  You can view the “top dogs” here:

http://westcollects.com/westCollection/top_dogs

It is hard to compete with well-known artists with HUGE followings.  I am a nobody in the art world.  In that respect, I’m glad it is doing as well as it is.

It took a while to find a typewriter that fit my vision.  I have a ‘note’ on my Facebook page that explains how the thing came about.  https://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=276135745766868

It would be totally amazing if that thing could produce those paintings!  As I was painting the keys I did manage to try it out.  How could I not?  I typed up a short paragraph before the paint ran out.  That is all there is.

I actually had a moment of doubt while researching this, but I totally glossed over it with a simple preference to believe my original assumption. However, I still love both his typewriter creation and his paintings, so the interview will still be done. Stay tuned…

Yes, I’m Going to Talk About America’s Next Top Model Again

December 9, 2011

And you can judge me as hard as Tyra, but it’s my blog and I can do what I want and this season made me have a lot of feelings.

Last night was the finale of the All Stars Season (Season 17, holy crap) and WHAT THE WHAT? This season has been ridiculous all the way through (although perhaps the most honest because it focused on branding, marketability, and likability much more than actual modeling and, come on now, that’s what this show has always been about) but the finale was riddled with confusion, scandal, and mistakes. The first half was going normally. The Covergirl challenge and the runway challenge (with all three finalists – Allison, Angelea, and Lisa) participating went off pretty much without a hitch. Except during the runway show, they kept focusing on how Angelea was crying and not feeling well and acting weird and then there was a commercial break and they come back into this ramshackle judging room where Tyra nonchalantly says that they discovered something after the show had wrapped that made Angelea disqualified and they had to reshoot the finale.

Huh?

First of all, that obviously means Angelea won, right? Or else why would they have to reshoot the finale? And what could’ve possibly been so scandalous that they wouldn’t give a single piece of information about why she – a FINALIST – was being eliminated in the FINALE. Even the internet doesn’t have any solid information today except rumors. I don’t know why, and I’m ashamed of this, but I NEED to know.

The biggest theories circulating are that either

a) Angelea revealed her victory before the finale ended, and was therefore stripped of her title. Apparently, this was done via  a Facebook fan page, not very credible anyway, but there also hasn’t been any evidence found that Angelea herself ever announced anything online.

b) I guess the exit interview videos on CW’s official site for the show had been uploaded in the order they were actually eliminated, and Angelea’s was last. I can’t find proof of this, and the videos don’t seem to be on the site anymore. So, not only was the winner accidentally revealed right at the beginning of the season, but it was the show’s fault, a mistake that would indeed be that embarrassing to not want to reveal on air. If that’s true, it’s totally unfair, even though Angelea should not have won anyway.

One of these had to be the case. Even when I let my imagination run wild, I can’t think of anything that dramatic enough where they wouldn’t have wanted to milk it for reality show gold and/or wouldn’t have been raked through the tabloids anyway.

So that brings me to the “final two.” I was pretty offended at the reshoot. Obviously, we all knew that they were faking and acting their way through the entire half of the finale. Why even bother? It would’ve been so much more juicy if they drew out the drama of Angelea being eliminated than this play I just watched. I know that reality TV isn’t real, but to so blatantly make it that obvious they don’t give a shit at portraying reality was sad, especially since the panel of judges pulled it off so well. How can I trust you ever again when their “deliberation” seemed so convincing?? And while the judges acted eerily well in pretending like this was their first time going through with it, Allison and Lisa weren’t believable in the slightest. Something weird was negotiated where they were informed beforehand, although to be honest while I was watching it I thought the results were going to be reversed. Allison was so calm and relaxed, and Lisa looked like a hot mess bundle of nerves that was pissed at the world. So, it did still shock me when they announced that fucking LISA was the winner. Lisa -who the judges have been rolling their eyes at all season, over Allison, who the judges have been fawning over all season- won. And the judges did not seem happy with their decision. (“Their” decision? Because, seriously, they seemed pissed.)

So, this is who won:

Lisa’s entertaining, sure, and can take a good picture now and then. Also, sorry, but girl was looking old. I get that she definitely has a brand, even if it’s not an altogether favorable one, but come ON. Allison has not taken a bad picture. Every one she has done in both her cycles has been mesmerizing, and something I could actually see in a real magazine, not something that looks like a picture of a pretty girl.

Sure, she’s a bit shy and weird and usually makes for boring TV. Sure she kind of only has one look, but it’s marketable and recognizable and a fashiony one look. When it comes to actual modeling potential, I feel like Allison has had the most of it out of all of the seasons that have ever aired. It’s so annoying that she not only didn’t win, but apparently (most likely) came in third.

And don’t get me started on the possibility that Angelea was actually supposed to win this season. I know she had the likable underdog “real” personality that audiences root for, but when it comes to talent, I never saw it. I was confused that she was brought back to the show in the first place. I can never see her in anything other than a catalog.

Speaking of not knowing why some models were brought back in the first place, all season I’ve been wanting to pick who I thought should have been on the All Star cycle, because their casting was all wrong, with few exceptions. But I’ll leave that for after the jump, because this is getting long.  Read more…

A Middle Ground

December 9, 2011

Even if you don’t know me personally, I think it’s fairly clear between the blog name made up of two Old Hollywood actresses and a fondness for retro-inspired fashion, art that involves letterpress, and a series called “Fashionable History,” that I have old-fashioned sensibilities and tastes. So it should come as no surprise that I detest e-readers. I’m not a Luddite (although I don’t have a smartphone either), but they just don’t make me feel as good as reading a real book does. I love books. I don’t find the size or weight of them at all inconvenient. I find reading  a screen tiring, boring, and not as captivating. It doesn’t give me the same sense of satisfaction or coziness, and my attention span plummets since I’m so used to reading nothing longer than blog posts on something that’s backlit. I like being able to look at my bookshelf, both for aesthetic purposes and because just glancing at a favorite book’s spine brings back the good feelings I have when reading its pages.

But, I hope to get books of my own published one day, and am striving to work in the publishing industry in one way or the other. I know I need to keep up with the trends, and that if I don’t understand digital publishing that I’ll never make it. That doesn’t mean I have to like it, but a bit of news caught my eye today that I think may result in me giving it a chance. Kindle Singles aren’t a new concept, but it wasn’t until the announcement of Sloane Crossley’s Single, Up the Down Volcano, being released tomorrow that they were brought to my attention with any kind of legitimacy. Crossley is one of my favorite authors (second favorite nonfiction author, to be exact), and I was excited to get to read more of her work beyond the short bits published around the web she writes. Singles are reserved for works that are longer than you would find in a magazine, but not long enough to be considered  a full-length manuscript for a book or novella, up to 30,000 words. Crossley, who writes personal essays (her books I Was Told There’d Be Cake and How Did You Get This Number are must-reads), is a natural fit for the format. Up the Down Volcano is a seamless followup to “How Did You Get This Number,” which is notably different from “I Was Told There’d Be Cake” with its inclusion of travel essays detailing adventures in Paris, Lisbon, and Alaska. In this new essay, Crossley travels to Ecuador on assignment and decides to spice up the article by climbing one of the tallest volcanoes in the world, despite not having any mountaineering experience. Schadenfreude ensues. The preview, although only a few pages long, shows it’s written in classic Crossley style, full of wit, dry humor, and a dash of self-deprecation. (“This is not like me. I am a profoundly lazy person. I won’t meet a friend at a location more than five blocks away from my apartment if it’s too windy or if the sidewalk is looking especially hard today.”) And the kicker? It’s $2. That’s less than a subway ride to keep in touch, so to speak, with one of my favorite writers.

So, what is it exactly about Kindle Singles that are prodding me slightly over to the side of digital publishing? For one, the price. An e-reader isn’t necessary, as long as you download Amazon’s free e-reader software where you can read it directly on your computer. I can’t afford an e-reader, and even though e-books are less expensive, I think it would take a while for it to be financially worth it. Secondly, the length works for me. I can handle reading 35 pages on a screen, since it’ll probably be done in one sitting. It keeps my attention and I feel like it would be worth the price, as opposed to being asked to pay for even a long article online. And most importantly, I think this format can be very useful for authors, especially for ones at Crossley’s level, who are relatively well-known, but don’t have the fame that would immediately sell books just for having their name on it. In the years between coming out with new books, publishing these mini-works and sneak peeks of what’s to come keeps their name in the news and their audience excited for what’s next. It maintains the buzz. Sure, authors can blog or guest-post on popular websites, or publish an essay or short story in a literary magazine that so few people read, but that doesn’t have the sense of permanency or value as a Single. Not to mention that they can get paid, hopefully more than the likely-sad amount those other venues can offer them, if anything. I can think of plenty of authors that I would love to see a Single from, especially since I haven’t heard any word of new books on the horizon from them. (Are you listening, Ruth Reichl? Julie Klausner? Rachel Shukert? Jonathon Safron Foer? Even David Sedaris?) With the exception of Amy Tan, a brief perusal of what’s available right now isn’t terribly exciting, so I’m hoping that this program grows to include more well-known authors. If done well, it could really benefit the industry.

Obsessed: Driving Gloves

December 2, 2011

I can’t think of a single other accessory that simultaneously makes me feel as chic and badass as the driving glove. I have a black leather fingerless pair that I got in Paris last year, and every time I wear them I just feel like the coolest person on the planet. Whenever I see a pair of driving gloves, I swoon.

Driving Gloves

 

Driving Gloves by kissmeducky featuring leather gloves
Even the most classic design adds an extra oomf to a cold-weather outfit, especially in the face of the cotton gloves you’ll be seeing everywhere you turn. A fun extra detail, like an unexpected color or innovative hardware, makes even more of a statement when your winter wardrobe starts to feel montonous in, oh, about a month.
Hitting right at the wrist, a driving glove can easily be the perfect finishing touch on an elegant evening look, especially in suede,  if they have minimal embellishments and detail. Imagine a sheath dress with a (faux) fur wrap, driving gloves, and stilettos for an Old Hollywood siren feel. Or, with a retro housedress with a full skirt and a beaded necklace, for a fun modern take on the more ladylike gloves of the era.
For a casual look, pair them with a cozy sweater, chunky knit scarf, skinny black pants and flat boots to add a slight twist to a classic look. Or, wear them with a bomber jacket, tee, jeans, and booties for a more literal  ensemble that could carry you from day to night.